When the United States began all religions had either come from Europe or Asia. The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was an American-born religion. The I AM religion also began in the U.S. and has strong roots in Santa Fe.
In 1930, Guy Ballard, an engineer from Chicago, had a vision of Saint Germain while hiking on Mount Shasta in California. This ethereal figure surrounded by light taught Ballard secrets from long ago. The teachings of Saint Germain became the basis of the “I AM” doctrine. Count Saint Germain was an 18th-century European courtier, diplomat, philosopher, and musician who dabbled in mysticism. He was a popular figure during the 19th century, and he spoke many languages and traveled among the European elite. His persona caught the attention of early Theosophists.
Getting the Word Out
After his first encounter with Saint Germain, Guy Ballard and his wife, Edna, embarked on spreading this newly shared doctrine from Mount Shasta. The premise of “I AM” is that God is found within each individual. In the book The Magic Presence, written by Ballard under the pen name of Godfré Ray King, he stated, “The purpose of this book is to reveal to the individual the whereabouts of his own Divine Self—God, the Mighty “I AM” presence, that all who desire may return to their Source, receive their Eternal Inheritance, and feel once again the Divine Self.”
Religion for the City Different
Guy Ballard died in 1939, and Edna Ballard and her son, Donald, moved to Santa Fe in 1942. They began the “I AM” Sanctuary on the Old Taos Highway in the building formerly used by the Presbyterian Mary James Missionary Boarding School for Boys. During that time, with both the Manhattan Project and the Japanese internment camp in town, their presence didn’t go unnoticed, but as always, Santa Fe’s “live and let live attitude” prevailed and allowed the group to worship in peace and privacy.
The Growth of a Congregation
Within a few years, “I AM” had 400 members in Santa Fe. New converts and people who followed them to live in town. Edna Ballard passed on in 1971, but Santa Fe’s “I AM” Sanctuary continues with a smaller congregation. There are “I AM” Temples and Sanctuaries all over the world. The Saint Germain Foundation Worldwide Headquarters is in Schaumburg, Illinois. They maintain an “I AM” Temple in downtown Chicago. Since 1950 they held annual conclaves at their Mount Shasta location, where they sponsor the “I AM” COME! Pageant on the life of the Beloved Jesus the Christ, which is open to the public.